Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Light Mushroom and Basil Soup

Hubby and I first tasted this type of mushroom soup a long, long time ago... even before we were married.  Sadly the quaint, hole-in-a-wall cafe is no longer around and I sure miss that soup.

I found some fresh oyster mushrooms recently, and decided to try to recreate the soup.  This is what I used and what I did...

500g oyster mushrooms, cleaned
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thinly
50g butter
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 to 1/2 cup low fat milk
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 to 3 drops truffle oil, optional

Melt butter; saute onion slices until soft and fragrant.  Toss in the oyster mushrooms and cook until softened (and some mushroom liquid comes out).  Add in chicken stock.  Season lightly with salt.  When the stock simmers, add the milk and fresh basil leaves.  Simmer a couple of minutes and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Turn off flame and add truffle oil, if using.  Serve hot!

Hubby says it's quite good.  I think so too.  Unfortunately, I can't make a comparison to that one a long time ago but hey, if it's good enough for hubby, then it's good.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rellenong Talong (Stuffed Eggplant)

Eggplant is a versatile vegetable and it is one of hubby's favorite vegetables.  My most favorite way of eating the eggplant is relleno - literally "stuffed" with a ground meat mixture and dipped in beaten egg then fried.  I also like my rellenong talong to be simple, and with crispy edges.

The recipe:

1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
150 grams ground pork
50 grams shelled shrimp, chopped finely
salt and pepper, to taste

2 pieces Asian eggplant (about 100 to 150 g each)

2 eggs, beaten lightly in separate dishes

Mix together the ground meat and chopped shrimp.  Season lightly with about a teaspoon of soy sauce and fresh ground pepper.  Saute the onions and garlic until fragrant.  Add the ground meat/shrimp mix.  Cook until dry.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, steam the eggplant until cooked through.  Peel off the skin and mash lightly until flattened.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Heat saute pan with canola oil (enough for shallow frying).

Place 1 flattened eggplant in a dish with beaten egg.  Spoon half the ground meat/shrimp mixture on top of the eggplant and press down gently with the back of a spoon.  Drizzle some beaten egg over the top.  Using a spatula (or 2), lift the eggplant with ground meat into the hot pan.  Spoon half the beaten egg remaining in the dish over the eggplant.  When bottom side turns brown (and crispy), flip over and spoon remaining egg over the eggplant.  Cook until the other side is browned and crispy too.  Repeat with the other eggplant.

Serve with ketchup.

(A quick note here - sometimes I don't flip the eggplant over especially when I want to see the ground meat mixture, as seen in the picture above).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Choco Chip Cookies

These are the easiest cookies ever!  I got the recipe from a fellow peanut butter fan after I tasted her cookies.  The recipe is so easy I didn't even have to write it down!!!

1 cup peanut butter (I like super crunchy)
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (I only used 1/2 cup)

Just mix everything together.  Use a small cookie scoop to drop the batter onto paper-lined cookie sheets.  Flatten slightly using your fingers.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets midway.  Makes about 2 dozen small cookies or 1 to 1 1/2 dozens medium sized cookies.

That's it!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Basic Whole Wheat Muffins

This is my go-to, basic muffin recipe.  For muffins, I always use half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.  It makes the muffin just a bit heftier but the texture is still good, not rock hard or dry.  And it's easy to mix-and-match.

Here's a batch that's been stuffed with chocolate fudge -

Here they are with blueberries and streusel topping -

The recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, sift after measuring
1/2 to 3/4  cup muscovado sugar **
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 super jumbo egg (or 2 medium eggs)
1/3 cup canola oil or melted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375*F.  Line 8 to 9 large muffin cups or 12 regular muffin cups with paper cups.

Combine the dry ingredients; set aside.  Mix together egg, oil/butter, milk and vanilla until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until only just combined (do not over-mix).

For variations, add in about 1 cup of - blueberries, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, chopped dates, shredded cheese, chopped mangoes, etc.

Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake for 18 to 24 minutes; rotating tins halfway through baking time.

** I use 1/2 cup sugar when I add in sweet mix-ins; otherwise I use 3/4 cup.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tartar Dip

Okay, the recipe is my usual tartar dip (or sauce) recipe.  Except that this time, I used the mini food processor instead of the hand mixer.  So instead of a semi-chunky dip, I ended up with a rather smooth dip.  But truth be told, I kinda like this one better than the chunky one... for one thing, the flavors melded pretty fast compared to the chunky, simply mixed version.  Also, for some reason, instead of onions, I used garlic.  And yes, I found that I liked the garlic version better, too!

The recipe:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely minced white onion (or garlic!)
2 teaspoons calamansi (or lemon) juice
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Just mix everything together!  (Adjust the saltiness as preferred)

The dip is great with fried, battered seafood!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Homemade Dulce de Leche!

There are many ways to make dulce de leche...

1. using basically milk and sugar: (a) in a heavy pot on the stove and (b) in a double boiler.

2. using condensed milk in its can by: (a) unopened can cooking in a pressure cooker, (b) unopened can submerged in simmering water in a pot, and (c) partially opened can partially submerged in simmering water in a pot or crockpot, and

3. using condensed milk out of the can: (a) in the oven where the milk is transferred to a baking dish in a bain marie, and (b) in the microwave.

I made mine in a different way, though.  Why?  Because (1) I have no desire to sit by the stove and stir for several hours, (2) I have this fear of exploding cookers or cans, (3) I have heard that cooking the milk still inside the can could result in a metallic taste [and hubby hates that], and (4) I wanted to infuse a vanilla bean pod in my concoction.

So, my way is by using my magic cooker - which is actually a thermal cooker that was a wedding gift a long, long time ago.  It's a Japanese model, which claims to retain cooking heat for at least 8 hours!  I really love that cooker as it cooks like magic (hence its "nickname") - with it we make soups, stews, meats, even rice.  It's pretty much like a slow cooker but without using electricity or gas.

Anyway, here is what I did...

I emptied a can of condensed filled milk into a canning jar with approximately 350 ml capacity, leaving an "open" space on top.

(just a quick note here:  I couldn't find sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket.  What I found were condensed creamers, reconstituted condensed milk and sweetened condensed filled milk.  I don't know if this is the same as sweetened condensed milk that is found in the U.S.A, so I just had to work with what was available.)

I cut a vanilla bean in half, sliced each half along its length and leaving the ends intact.  I scraped the vanilla caviar and placed the caviar and the pods in the jar with the condensed milk.  After giving it a quick stir, I covered the jar with its lid - securely BUT NOT TIGHTLY.

Then I placed the jar inside the inner pot of the magic cooker and filled the pot with water, up to just below the rim of the canning jar (I didn't want water to accidentally get into the jar).  I placed the cover of the inner pot and "cooked" it until the water was boiling.  I lowered the heat to a low-medium simmer and let it be like that for about 8 to 10 minutes.  No stirring, just let the jar sit in the water.


Then I placed the inner pot into the outer chamber of the magic cooker set.  It sat in there for about 3 hours.  I reheated the inner pot to boiling again and simmered another 8 to 10 minutes, after which I returned the inner pot to the outer chamber and let it sit for another 4 hours.

Because the jar was REALLY HOT, I left it on the counter to cool overnight.

The next morning, I strained the dulce de leche to get out the pods and any lumps.

And then I placed the strained dulce de leche back into the jar... and sat there for several minutes just staring at my beautiful dulce de leche and smelling the wondrous fragrance!!!

(I just love the specks of vanilla caviar in the dulce de leche!)

Then I got a little bit (on my finger) and tasted it, after which I got a spoon and dug in.  Then I decided to share a bit of it to a couple of friends... just to brag, really...  (smiling)...

Then I remembered that I made a batch of "healthy" whole wheat banana muffins (with oats, oat bran and reduced sugar) but stuffed with "unhealthy" chocolate fudge.  What the heck, but I poured on some dulce de leche and WOWOWIE!!!

Hubby just loved it!!!

As for me?  I liked the dulce de leche topped banana muffin, too.  But I have been eating the dulce de leche off a (table)spoon... like, every half hour or so...

(still smiling!)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mixed Balls Soup

This is a really simple soup but it's truly one of my favorites!

The recipe:

4 cups chicken stock (you can make it from scratch, if you like)
3 to 4 slices of ginger
10 pieces balls (fish, squid, meat, etc.), sliced in halves
a large bunch of pechay leaves

Heat the chicken stock and ginger slices until boiling.  Add the balls.  When they float (and soup is boiling), throw in the pechay leaves.  Cover then turn off the flame.  Serve hot.  The soup is also good garnished with chopped spring onions.

If you wish the soup to be more filling, vermicelli noodles may be added.